A few years, the Tokyo Harusai (Spring Festival) has opted for a Wagnerian Schwerpunkt, which is a concert performance of a Wagner opera with international casts and conductor every year. This series is supposed to culminate in a Ring cycle with Marek Janowskis starting from next year.
This year, the Harusai has decided to give the proceedings a Bayreuthian flavor by inviting conductor, tenor and baritone from Katharina Wagner’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Sebastian Weigle deserves many praises for his sensible choices – the performance was conducted on the safe but sure side, with exemplary internal balance and between orchestra and soloists. The NHK Symphony Orchestra often offered beautiful refulgent strings, accurate brass and volume in Wagnerian scale. These musicians still have to learn to have fun in “serious repertoire”, but the maestro never failed to inject animation right at the moments when they started to loose steam. The Tokyo Opera Singers too deserve praise for the firm, clear and beautiful choral singing this evening. This was certainly a highlight in this year’s concert calendar in Japan.
Replacing Gal James, Anna Gabler sang with beautiful legato and unfailing good taste, but her velvety voice sometimes lacks slancio in the more “Wagnerian” moments. In any case, she launched Selig wie die Sonne with absolute poise. Klaus Florian Vogt was not in his best voice this evening, his high notes often pinched. This is nonetheless a role where he knows how to pull all the stops and he managed to “sell” his softer version of exposed acuti. Jörg Schneider is a congenial David who makes great use of the text, his Spieltenor easier on the ear than I would first believe. Maybe Vogt was victim of the hay-fever season, for Adrian Eröd too seemed to be below his usual level, his voice getting noticeably rougher during act II. He too is an intelligent and charismatic singer who could build a convincing performance in spite of that. I cannot say the same of Alan Held, a Hans Sachs of Wotan-ian amplitude but little variety who sounded tired and unfocused in act III. Günther Groissböck was an incisive, firm-toned Pogner (doubling as Nachtwächter) and Eijiro Kai was a forceful Fritz Kothner.